Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Matthew Castillo

FCC leader promises better Internet as net neutrality rules expire

FCC leader promises better Internet as net neutrality rules expire

As of today, the end of net neutrality is official. Even if the bill passes the House of Representatives, it heads to the White House where chances are almost impossible that President Trump signs the resolution eliminating the first major act of deregulation of his administration.

The Federal Communications Commission has officially lifted Obama-era internet protections known as net neutrality, leading to a potential change in how fast apps, websites and online services load depending on internet service providers (ISP.) The change comes six months after the FCC voted to undo the rules.

Many large internet service providers, including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, have pledged to not block or discriminate against traffic.

While it's unclear what the repeal will look like for consumers in the USA, advocacy group Free Press has cited numerous examples of behaviors pre-dating net neutrality laws in advocating against the repeal.

Under the new law, ISPs are required to disclose any blocking, throttling or prioritization of their own content or from their partners on customers' broadband connections.

Ajit Pai, in an op-ed piece published today, championed the end of Net Neutrality regulations. In a dramatic video, she called on the House to save net neutrality in order to protect the "free and open" internet.

"Each day that goes by that we don't have Net Neutrality protections because the FCC repealed them, we're going to see a slow chipping away of the open internet we've all come to rely on", says Mark Stanley with Demand Progress.

"The internet is coming for net neutrality".

But Gigi Sohn, former counselor for former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, said in a statement Monday that consumers will have little recourse against ISPs if they have a complaint about internet providers' behavior: "For the first time since the creation of broadband, the (FCC) will not take responsibility for protecting consumers or competition". It may also make it harder for the next generation of online services to compete if they have to pay up to be placed in a so-called internet fast lane.

"I don't think anything gets better for consumers", said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the five-person commission. In most circumstances, a bill does not reach the floor of the House of Representatives until voted out of the committee in which it was assigned.

"Those "fast lanes" will put those who won't or can not pay in the slow lane, making the internet look a lot like cable TV", Sohn says. It's a major turning point for Internet policy and the Web as a whole, as broadband providers will enjoy additional freedom to seek new ways of making money in a rapidly changing market.

Enacted in 2015, the rules sought to stop providers giving preferential treatment to sites and services that paid them to accelerate their data.

Experts warn a non-neutral net creates an unfair playing field between the mammoth internet companies that can afford to "pay to play" versus start-ups and smaller businesses. Several states, including New Jersey, Washington, Oregon and California, have gone so far as to push legislation to enforce the principles of net neutrality within their borders.

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